The European Commission selected in 2018 six projects addressing major technological and societal challenges in the areas of ICT, health and energy. Launched in March 2019 and running for one year, these preparatory actions are developing ambitious research agendas. They will inform the strategic planning of Horizon Europe - the EU’s next research and innovation framework programme - and the preparation of its first Work Programme by outlining and proposing possible large-scale research initiatives.

Image shows three coloured circles with the names of the areas of research

The six preparatory actions propose to address major technological and societal challenges in the following areas:

ICT for connected society

Time Machine aims to build a large-scale digitisation and computing infrastructure based on multi-scale modelling and simulation and AI technologies. This infrastructure will be used for digitising huge volumes of information from Europe’s historical archives, large museum and library collections, and geo-historical datasets that are mapping millennia of European historical and geographical evolution. Making available these vast amounts of Europe’s cultural and historical knowledge will have a profound effect on understanding Europe’s historical and societal evolutions and an impact on key sectors such as the ICT industry, creative industries, and tourism.

Read project details on Cordis website.

Time Machine factsheet (updated June 2019)

Humane AI  aims to develop the scientific foundations and technological breakthroughs needed to create AI systems that empower people and extend their intelligence. The approach is on using transparent decision-making processes, which adapt to dynamic real-world environments and understand people and complex social contexts. It promises to shape the AI revolution in a direction beneficial both to individuals and to society, adhering to European ethical values and social, cultural and political norms.

Read project details on Cordis website.

Humane AI factsheet

Health and life science

RESTORE will focus on regenerative medicine and targeted immune reconstitution for cancer treatment. It aims to contribute to developing an emerging new class of medicines (“advanced therapy medicine products”), which work, for example, by inserting laboratory-created DNA stretches into the body or creating tissue that can be used to repair or replace human tissue, up to whole human organs.

Read project details on Cordis website.

RESTORE factsheet

LifeTime aims to better understand how diseases start and progress in the human body. It will develop and integrate several breakthrough technologies including single-cell multi-omics and imaging, machine learning and AI, and personalised disease models such as organoids. The goal will be to gain new insights in how genomes function within cells, and how cells form tissues and dynamically remodel their activities when tissues progress towards disease. This will have a dramatic impact on the early detection, prevention and innovative treatment of chronic and progressive diseases.

Read project details on Cordis website.

LifeTime factsheet

Environment, climate and energy

SUNRISE aims to develop ways of mimicking natural photosynthesis to produce sustainable fuels and commodity chemicals for renewable energy storage and a clean chemical industry. It will use high performance computing, advanced biomimicry, and synthetic biology to design new materials that can capture and store solar energy. It will also work on nitrogen fixation and the conversion of atmospheric CO2 into products. SUNRISE has the potential to be a game-changer in the fight against climate change.

Read project details on Cordis website.

SUNRISE factsheet

ENERGY-X aims to find ways for efficiently converting solar and wind energy into chemical forms. It aims to develop new catalysts as well as novel approaches for converting water, CO2, and N2 into fuels and base chemicals, which should substantially help to reduce Europe’s dependence on fossil fuels. It will focus in particular on the manufacturing of carbon-neutral aviation fuels and the local production of fertilisers with no carbon footprint.

Read project details on Cordis website.

ENERGY-X factsheet

Main milestones

  • Early 2016: the European Commission, in collaboration with the Member States, held a public consultation of the research community to gather ideas on science and technology challenges that could be addressed through future large-scale research initiatives.
  • 15 December 2016: Commissioner Oettinger hosted a round-table with high-level representatives from the Member States, industry and academia. They discussed the main priorities for forthcoming future large-scale research initiatives and identified three major areas where promising grand science and technology challenges could be addressed:
    • ICT for connected society;
    • health and life science;
    • environment, climate and energy.
  • October 2017: a call for preparatory actions for future research initiatives was launched as part of the Horizon 2020 FET Work Programme 2018-2020. The six preparatory actions were selected out of 23 proposals received.
  • 1 March 2019: start of the six preparatory actions.